MAURICE BESSINGER DOESN'T TALK ABOUT COMBAT | 2002-02-02
I am bragging when I point out that I have known Maurice Bessinger for decades. We talked for many hours through the years. But I only heard him mention his Korean War experiences once.
He said he was walking guard duty in Korea with a Republic of Korea (ROK) soldier during the Korean War. The ROK soldier said for Maurice to stay on guard and he would go back and go to sleep.
A little later, an ROK officer showed up and asked Maurice where the ROK guard was. Maurice told him. The officer walked back to where the soldier was sleeping and a minute later Maurice heard the sharp crack of his pistol. He had shot the guard while he lay there asleep.
That was all Maurice ever said to me about Korea in all our many hours of conversation.
I came to find out later that Maurice Bessinger was in the most vicious part of the fighting in that awful war. But he simply never mentioned it.
I have known a lot of people who talk constantly about combat and others like Maurice who mention it barely or not at all. The ones who talk about it usually make you feel that they want you to feel responsible for it all. You owe them more money for it, and only they have any right to talk about war.
Then there are people like Maurice who don't claim some kind of special godhood from their time in combat. I was raised with the World War II generation, so I am very familiar with both types.
A very simple rule separates the braggarts and the real heroes like Maurice.
Maurice Bessinger did his fighting and then went back to being a citizen. He has had one hell of a life since then.
Another guy I know fought for five months in World War II, then he became an alcoholic and stayed in the service. Because he had won a Silver Star, they let him stay in, drunkenness and all.
This guy talks about nothing but World War II. He tells how he is the only person who should talk about war. He says we owe him.
The latter gentleman beats his chest so much I think he's broken some ribs.
The guy who talks about his college football days or his time in service all the time, hoping you will feel obligated and inferior, is almost invariably somebody who has not had a life since. I saw an outstanding example just a couple of years ago on the television program, "Cops."
The cops were called to a bar where an old guy kept pulling his pants down. When they arrived, he shouted that he had been at D-Day. I wonder how many times he has used that to stay out of jail.
Maurice Bessinger has shown physical courage in war, but he has also shown MORAL courage by taking the field in politics. It has cost him dearly. A major part of his life's work has been destroyed because he dared to speak out. Bessinger will never have to convince anyone worth talking to that he is a hero.
Please read November 20, 1999 - TYPES OF COURAGE.